Naomi Bakunzi Katunzi is a UDSM alumna belonging to the 1973 graduating class. Memory of several things connected with her service to the public, both in Tanzania and beyond, should help inspire the younger generation of today and tomorrow.
She was born on 20th November 1948, in Ngara District, Kagera Region. She had her primary education (Std I-IV, 1955-59) at Kasulu Native Authority Primary School in Kigoma and Mvumi Middle School in Dodoma (Std V-VIII, 1960-63), proceeding to secondary education at Msalato Girls Secondary School in Dodoma (Form I-IV, 196467) and Korogwe Girls Secondary School in Tanga region for the ‘A-levels’ in 1968-69. It was at Korogwe that she obtained the Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (ACSEE), which qualified her for undergraduate study at the University of Dar es Salaam beginning in 1970. She joined the-then Faculty [now School] of Education and took a combination of English, Geography and Education for her degree programme, which she completed in 1973, getting a Bachelor of Arts (Ed) with honours. Her initial employment station as a graduate teacher was Azania Secondary School in Dar es Salaam (1973–74), then Mtwara Technical Secondary School in Mtwara (1975– 77) and Kigoma Secondary School (1978–79).
In 1980, she was appointed as a School Inspector for both English and Geography in the Eastern Zone, covering Dar es Salaam, Coast and Morogoro regions. The eight years she worked with the Ministry of Education gave her wide professional experience working in the different areas of the school system. With that experience, in 1981, she joined the University of Dar es Salaam academic staff as a lecturer, teaching, researching and conducting assessments in the specialist area of curriculum design and development especially as applied to the subjects of Geography and the English language. In 1988, she was promoted to senior lecturer, and served in this position until 1992. This added to her expertise and intellectual exposure in the preparation of graduate teachers and researchers in the country. Altogether, she served at the University of Dar es Salaam for eleven years, from 1981 to 1992. Within this period, Naomi had benefited from postgraduate study at the University of Dar es Salaam (MA in Ed, 1981) and graduate study abroad at Calgary University in Alberta, Canada (PhD, 1988). She also had benefited from numerous academic and professional development opportunities such as an English language teaching methodology in British universities (in May–June 1989); Use of microcomputers in educational research (at Egerton and Eldoret universities in Kenya, in February 1990); and Advances in qualitative research in education (in Nairobi Kenya, in June 1992).
She left UDSM service in 1993 upon getting a national-level appointment as Executive Director with the Family Planning Association of Tanzania (UMATI = Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania), itself a country branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which had been established in the country earlier in 1959 and had vied for highly educated leadership for success and positive influence. She worked for UMATI for four years until 1997, leaving a clearly positive mark for exemplary service.
For the next twelve years of Dr. Katunzi’s public service, Naomi was met with a series of high-level appointments such that one could even postulate that they were influenced by the “green star” rating associated with her successful leadership the UMATI executive office. The years 1998-2009 were crowned by government appointments to lead various government sectors at the high level of CEO: as Director of the Tanzania Institute of Education, TIE, from 1998 to 2004; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture from 2004 to 2006; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (2006-2008); and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology (from 2008 to 2009). She formally retired in November 2009. Indeed, it is on record that Dr Katunzi pioneered anational “remedial” programme‘Complementary Basic Education in Tanzania’ (COBET), that was initiated in the mid-2000s in order to put back to school girl children that had dropped out of school on account of such accidents as pregnancy.
Upon her retirement from public service in 2009, Dr Naomi Katunzi continued to challenge her own intellectual capacities in helping institutions in need, particularly universities in the circles of her faith. From 2011 to August 2013, she served as Deputy Director for Academics at St. John’s University of Tanzania (SJUT), based in Dodoma, as well as Acting Director for the University’s St. Marks Centre located in Dar es Salaam and continued to be associated with the Centre and with SJUT in general. Over the years, she has served on a number of institutional advisory boards, councils and committees, such as that of the Institute of Adult Education, ADEM in Bagamoyo, Mpakani Secondary School, Kinondoni District, Matosa Secondary School, Kinondoni District, and Kinzudi Secondary School in Kinondoni District.
Naomi has to her credit a number of works on record, including academic journal articles, conference papers and consultancy reports. Clients for her consultancies have varied, including NORAD, DANIDA, SIDA, ODA, DANCHURCHAID, the Netherlands Embassy, the Irish Embassy, the World Bank, UNICEF, UNFPA, Plan International, Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation, and Graça Machel Trust. Many of these reports have been used by educational institutions in their curriculum planning, instructional reviews and/orcapacity-building initiatives. No doubt the University of Dar es Salaam feels happy and highly appreciative of her achievements and her contributions to the nation and to the wider community